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Womens Health Issues. 2011 Sep-Oct;21(5):374-82. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2011.03.002. Epub 2011 May 12.

Racial/ethnic differences in breastfeeding duration among WIC-eligible families.

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Department of Demography and Organization Studies, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas 78207, USA.



This research documented racial/ethnic differences in breastfeeding duration among mothers from seven diverse racial/ethnic groups in rural and urban areas of the United States that initiated breastfeeding among income and categorically eligible WIC participants.


Using data from the Longitudinal 9-Month-Preschool Restricted-Use data file of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort, this research first assessed racial/ethnic differences in breastfeeding initiation and duration, maternal and child health characteristics, social service usage, and sociodemographic characteristics. Next, breastfeeding survivorship and Cox proportional hazards models were estimated to assess potential racial/ethnic disparities in breastfeeding duration once these control variables were accounted for in multiple variable models.


Breastfeeding initiation rates and breastfeeding durations of 6 months were lower among WIC-eligible mothers compared with all mothers. WIC-eligible, foreign-born Mexican-Origin Hispanic (FBMOH) mothers were most likely to breastfeed for 6 months. Breastfeeding duration rates dropped quickly after 4 months of duration among WIC-eligible mothers that initiated. Two crossover patterns in breastfeeding durations were noted among 1) FBMOH and non-Hispanic Black mothers and 2) Asian and Native American mothers. A FBMOH breastfeeding duration advantage was noted compared with non-Hispanic White mothers once all control variables were included in the Cox proportional hazard models. No other racial/ethnic disparities in breastfeeding duration were noted.


More attention to educational programs and broad forms of support as part of WIC are needed to help reach the breastfeeding duration goals of Healthy People 2010 and continued support of the Loving Support Peer Counseling Program may serve as an ideal policy for local WIC offices.

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